Adding a bit of seaweed in the feed could reduce methane emissions from cattle as much as 82%, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California-Davis.
Researchers say this could pave the way for the sustainable production of livestock throughout the world.
UC-Davis’ Ermias Kebreab said the seaweed did not impact the health of the cow or the quality of the milk. But, one of the challenges they came across, determining how much seaweed to use.
“For dairy cattle, say 300-400 grams a day, you’re getting about 1% of their feed intake, but they don’t like the taste very much,” he said. “But we were able to reduce it to just ½% or even ¼% and the taste works pretty well,” said Kebreab.
Over the course of five months during the summer of 2020, researchers added a small amount of seaweed to the diets of 21 beef cattle and tracked their weight and methane emissions.
Kebreab said cattle that consumed about 80 grams, or three ounces, of seaweed gained as much weight as their herd mates, while producing 82% less methane.
The UC Davis research indicated that there was no drop-off in efficacy over time, according to Kebreab.
So, when will seaweed supplements be available for dairy operations in the U.S.? Kebreab said from here, they need USDA and FDA approval for larger field tests.
Kebreab said they will have on-farm trials in California and Washington this summer. Kebreab is hopeful with more on-farm trials and applying for FDA approval they will have supplements available in the market place in the next two to three years.